File photo of an Iranian missile
Mon May 19, 2014 3:13PM GMT
The Western powers are shifting the goalposts in the P5+1 nuclear talks, thus making a comprehensive deal with Iran elusive.
Since the P5+1 of six world powers signed the interim deal with Iran, the latter has met the demand to limit uranium enrichment.
By pledging a limit of five per cent enrichment of the nuclear fuel, Iran was demonstrating its oft-repeated claim that its nuclear program is for peaceful, civilian applications. At that level of uranium processing, it is nowhere near possible to build a nuclear bomb.
Western powers have been accusing Iran over the past 10 years and more of secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons, which Iran has consistently denied. The US, Britain and France have never provided any proof to support their alleged suspicions, but on the basis of their allegations they have imposed deleterious economic sanctions on the Iranian people.
The ongoing nuclear negotiations – the next round is in four weeks – are supposedly aimed at lifting the sanctions in return for Iranian guarantees about the peaceful nature of its program.
It should be noted that Iran’s self-imposed restriction on uranium enrichment at the five per cent level is arbitrary. It is not mandated by any law or international treaty obligation. As a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran could in principle enrich uranium to any level – 80 per cent or more – if it so wanted. Certainly, Iran has developed the technology to do so despite the inimical Western-led blockade on its national economy.
So, the five per cent enrichment limit agreed to by Iran six months ago is a goodwill gesture that Iran has freely conceded to in order to prove its constant claim that its nuclear program is for peaceful civilian uses, such as energy production, medical isotopes and scientific research.
Since signing the interim deal last November, the IAEA inspectors, who have been given unprecedented access to Iranian nuclear facilities that few other countries would permit, have reported Iran’s full compliance. There are no grounds whatsoever for continuing Western claims that Iran is doing or might do anything untoward.
Iran has gained some sanctions relief as a result of the six-month interim so-called handshake. But the bulk of US and European-imposed trade and finance embargoes remain in place, inflicting a harsh toll of human suffering on Iranian civilians, from the shortage of certain life-saving medicines, to the higher cost of food and other daily staples, owing to currency inflation and impediments to conducting normal international commerce.
The latest round of talks in Vienna at the end of last week clearly shows now what is preventing completion of a final nuclear agreement. It is Western shifting of the goalposts for reaching any deal.
The supposed point of any comprehensive accord is for Iran to demonstrate its commitment to peaceful nuclear development. Iran has done so with much forbearance, as even the Western-biased IAEA testifies.
Why a final deal was not reached in Vienna last week is because the US-led Western camp introduced a new variable into the equation – the issue of Iranian ballistic missiles. The West now wants – in addition to a cap on uranium enrichment – restrictions placed on Iran’s formidable arsenal of long-range conventional military missiles.
These restrictions are supposedly an assurance sought by the Western powers that if Iran were to “break out” from its self-imposed five per cent limit of uranium enrichment that the country would then not have the delivery means to fire a nuclear warhead. This alleged Western safeguard is directed at ostensibly securing the Israeli regime – even though the latter has illegally stockpiled up to 400 nuclear weapons that remain beyond any international legal oversight.
In an editorial column at the weekend, the Washington Postdescribed “the difficult path to a nuclear deal with Iran”. The newspaper – which reflects official US thinking – puts the onus on Iran to make concessions over the latest demand for controls on long-range ballistic missiles.
At this point, we need to stand back and see what’s going on. The moving of goalposts by the Western powers is not merely churlish haggling over the interim deal. More sinisterly, the sidetracking shows Western bad faith – bad faith that destroys confidence in the chances of arriving at a mutual comprehensive accord and an end to the decade-long nuclear deadlock.
What this strongly suggests is that Washington and its European allies are not serious or sincere about finding a genuine solution to the nuclear standoff with Iran. In particular, the lifting of the barbaric Western sanctions on Iran, the ongoing impact of which very arguably puts these measures in the category of a crime against humanity.
Against this inveterate Western mentality of aggression, Iran unfortunately may never be able to satisfy Western demands for assurance over its nuclear program. No sooner is one condition met when another condition is introduced, and so on, and so on.
The latest bad faith display by the West at the P5+1 talks in Vienna confirms what many observers have already noted – namely that the nuclear issue is not really the Western concern. It is but a chimera to conceal the real Western objective, which is to subjugate Iran and inflict misery with sanctions in order to foment regime change. The West could not easily get away with such criminal aggression towards the Iranian people otherwise.
But this realization is not a dead-end for Iran. While the Western powers may try to shift goalposts in their fake P5+1 negotiations, the global economy is shifting away from these has-been powers. This week sees the Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, where they are expected to sign a strategic energy deal. The global economy is moving inexorably away from the bankrupt Western capitalist powers and the spent US dollar as the international reserve currency.
Rather than wasting time and resources on pandering to Western intrigues, Iran might be better off walking away from the P5+1 altogether, and concentrate its interests in developing a new global economic axis. Russia and China should also snub the P5+1 charade. After all, the same subterfuge of US-led regime change is being pursued against Moscow, as should be obvious from the current Ukraine crisis.
The Western powers do not deserve the respect of negotiations. They are arrogant rogue powers, with the innocent blood of millions on their hands. Their bad faith is endemic and incorrigible. That should be clearer more than than ever after the latest setback at the P5+1 talks.
Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he is now located in East Africa as a freelance journalist, where he is writing a book on Bahrain and the Arab Spring, based on eyewitness experience working in the Persian Gulf as an editor of a business magazine and subsequently as a freelance news correspondent. The author was deported from Bahrain in June 2011 because of his critical journalism in which he highlighted systematic human rights violations by regime forces. He is now a columnist on international politics for Press TV and the Strategic Culture Foundation. More articles by Finian Cunningham